Eric Rosenthal’s NFL Week 17 Best Bets Against the Spread: Which Teams Need to Win?
32 teams started the regular season with hopes for the 2019 season. Okay, probably not Dolphins fans, but the rest of them. After Sunday in the NFL, only 12 teams will remain in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy.
Week 17 is sometimes the most confusing week of the year. While some teams sitting out their star players in preparation for the playoffs, others are fighting for their playoff lives. There are also many organizations who would be better served by losing and improving their draft position.
After sorting through all the analytics, player news, and playoff scenarios; I’ve chosen my top three NFL picks against the spread.
Best Bet ATS for NFL Week 17 No. 1: Carolina Panthers +14 vs New Orleans Saints
The Saints have a potential 2-seed and a bye in the first round to play for, but Christian McCaffrey and the Carolina Panthers being two touchdown underdogs at home is just too high.
Expect the Panthers to lose this game, but interim Carolina Head Coach Perry Fewell has every reason to keep his team competitive. Standing at 7 consecutive losses, it’s important for Fewell to put a positive finish on a year where a hot start ended up with Ron Rivera being fired.
Christian McCaffrey needs only 67 yards receiving to finishing with a historic season of 1,000 yards on the ground and 1,000 yards in the air. In a game where he should be sitting out, the Panthers will lean on CMC early and often en route to putting up two or more touchdowns on the board.
The Panthers defense is the major worry as Drew Brees has carved up much better defenses all year. With a spread of 14, we can afford to see Michael Thomas dancing in the end zone and still cover.
Two touchdowns is a lot in the NFL, especially on the road. We take the Carolina and the points as a double-digit home underdog.
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Best Bet ATS for NFL Week 17 No. 2: Philadelphia Eagles -4 at New York Giants
Carson Wentz and the Eagles are not only the better team in this game, they have a different stratosphere of motivation than the Giants.
Philadelphia can clinch the NFC East with a win, while a loss could gift the division to the Cowboys if they can beat the lowly Washington Redskins at home.
Miles Sanders has brought life to Philadelphia’s offense as a major upgrade from Jordan Howard. After winning many people including myself their fantasy football leagues, he’ll be the main cog in a unit that is missing most of its talent.
At 4-11, there are only a few things thing a Giants win could do. The first is giving Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys a path to the playoffs and the second is hurting their draft positioning. Neither of those options seems too appealing to ownership or fans in New York. A loss wouldn’t be seen as a negative to many and that’s the result I think we’ll end up with.
Daniel Jones is still a rookie quarterback who’s not quite ready for the NF and Saquon Barkley recently came off an injury. Although every player wants to finish the year strong, it makes a lot of sense to focus on staying healthy instead of pushing yourself to the limit in a meaningless game.
Philadelphia has injury issues across all 3 levels on defense, but they’ll put together a good performance in a must-win Week 17 matchup.
Best Bet ATS for NFL Week 17 No. 3: Pittsburgh Steelers PK at Baltimore Ravens
Another game where the main factor is motivation, but of the complete opposite extremes.
If the can Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans lose at the Houston Texans, the Steelers will clinch the 6th seed in the AFC.
With home-field advantage locked up throughout the playoffs, the Ravens want nothing more than for all of their players to stay healthy through this game.
With the Ravens will resting presumptive MVP Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III will have to lead an offense sans Marken Andrews, Marquise Brown, Mark Ingram II, Marshal Yanda, and other key offensive starters. Earl Thomas III, Brandon Williams, and more will be sitting out on defense.
The Ravens are clearly the superior team at full strength, but the Steelers in a do or die situation will find a way to come up with a victory against the Baltimore B-Squad.